I have embraced social selling. Practicing it has opened doors for clients and produced freelance and full-time opportunities. Social selling techniques and activities are opportunities for growth. They will help you improve, warm up, and build relationships with people.

I prefer a balanced outbound and inbound strategy that includes many approaches.

Give these 12 methods a shot and watch your results improve:

1. Stand Out: Build and Own Your Personal Brand.

  • Optimize customer-centric digital profiles on social networks.
  • Own your online reputation; for examples, see:

How to Create an All-Star LinkedIn Profile 

[Infographic] by Melonie Dodaro

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for LinkedIn [Infographic] by Koka Sexton

To increase connect-and-response rates, you need to represent yourself as a credible authority, resource, and trusted advisor. Buyers trust peer recommendations. Ask folks who know your work to recommend you online. The “social proof” of what others say about you is more impressive than what you say about yourself.

2. Do Research: Gain Insightful Business Knowledge of Target Prospects/Organizations.

Do this via their Web sites, About Us pages, biographies, press/news pages, blogs, annual reports, etc.

3. Setup Google Alerts: Be On-Top of Industry/Organization/Prospect Trigger Events.

Common triggers are new funding, growth, job changes, relocations, new hires, new product and/or service launches, etc.

4. Do More Research: Reading, Listening, Learning.

Follow and engage with prospects, customers, influencers, and organizations on their preferred social media channels, such as LinkedInLinkedIn GroupsTwitterMediumQuoraGoogle+FacebookYouTube, and other industry-specific forums. Become familiar with their industry, interests, and personalities. Interact and vote their answers up. Likecomment, and share their content as appropriate.

5. Leverage Network Connections: Use Relationships to Gain Introductions to Prospects.

In relation to asking for help, always be giving and generous with your time. Pay it forward and help others with no expectations…you may not get a thank you, but continue being a giver.

6. Compliment/Congratulate Prospects’ Organization/Strategy/Product.

Test various delivery methods, such as email, LinkedIn InMailTwitter DM, direct mail, text, video, phone, etc. Capture attention in seconds by proving you have done your homework. Drop cogent data points about prospects and their organization.

7. Leverage Video.

Years ago, influencers predicted video would become a part of the business-to-business community. At the time it was only seen in the business-to-consumer community. Now personalized videos are being created by Sales Development Representatives and Account Executives. They are bringing back human-to-human connections so are becoming more prevalent in business-to-business. Impactful storytelling videos are being crafted with recording and sharing platforms: VidyardWistiailosOneMobCincopa, etc., plus free Google Chrome extensions such as Vidyard GoVideoWistia SoapboxLoom, etc., are popular.

8. Always Bring Value: Educate Prospects Sharing Content Relevant to their Role/Industry.

Share content that you, others in your organization, or even someone outside of your organization created. Provide value and help your prospective contacts improve their personal and professional brand. For more tips, see my LinkedIn post: 7 Tips for More Effective B2B Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Marketing, & Sales

9. Use the Phone: Have a Conversation

The phone is still a critical go-to-market tool. Compelling and personalized voicemail messages and great storytelling work. While asking the right questions helps you zero in on understanding how you can best help others.

10. Navigate Organizational Hierarchies: Create Allies Along the Way.

Communicate with prospects and their staff. Gain business intelligence and advice. Know how to influence, build trust, and be relevant to the primary decision maker or committee.

11. Always Be Networking: Online & Offline.

I love it when strangers approach me and say, “You are known for connecting and helping people. Can you help me?” Ask people you meet in-person or on-the-phone to connect on digital networks. Send personalized requests. Do not use the standard generic request to connect. Be authentic and write a personal note.

12. Apply Social Selling During Every Stage of the Sales Cycle.

Social Selling is not only about prospecting or lead generation at the top of the sales funnel. Even after a customer relationship is well established continue to educate and bring fresh ideas. Be a resource throughout the buyer’s journey.

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For a high-quality sales pipeline, practice these tips (and check out the bonus list and videos!) to grow revenue and gain more prospects, customers, and advocates.

Bonus 1: Social Selling and Marketing Jedi Council List

The following lists contain LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. The lists include over 30 Jedi’s that drop serious knowledge. I learn a lot from these Jedi’s stellar content! Special thanks to council members that contributed some sage quotes.

“Much to learn, you still have…” — Yoda

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“Communicating with an audience-first mentality is an important mindset for any content program because it means we are putting the needs of our audience above our own.

It’s often a subtle shift, but a significant one: What does our audience need from us? What will they value? How can we improve their lives?”  Ann Handley@MarketingProfs

“Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell.”  David Meerman Scott @dmscott